By Ros Satar

  • Maria Sakkari [6] def. Johanna Konta [7] 2-6 6-4 6-1
  • In Madrid R1, faces Alison Riske on Sunday (Leads H2H 1-0)
MADRID, SPAIN – There is no rest for Johanna Konta as she is set to face Alison Riske on Sunday morning in the Mutua Madrid Open, after being edged in the Rabat final by Marka Sakkari.

 

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Maria Sakkari [6] def. Johanna Konta [7] 2-6 6-4 6-1

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It all seemed to be going so well for the British No. 1 Johanna Konta as she brought a hectic week of a lot of court time on the clay to an end in the Rabat final, facing Maria Sakkari. Konta started with confidence, dictating from the base-line and causing Sakkari enough grief that she told her coach Tom Hill in exasperation tat Konta was playing ‘so fast’ and stopping her from getting any kind of headway on the Brit’s serve as Konta ripped through the first set.

It was Konta who opened up a lead in the second set, but Sakkari was slowly getting more on terms with the Brit’s game and her persistence was rewarded with a break of her own. Konta seemed to be tightening up as Sakkari broke again to grab the second set.

In fact the Greek would reel off 10 of the last 11 games to win her first title, which Konta referred to as ‘very special’ in her runners-up speech, encouraging Sakkari to enjoy it and that she deserved it.

 

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WTA Madrid Round 1 Konta v Alison Riske | H2H: Konta leads 1-0

It is a very quick turnaround for both of them as they are late on Madrid’s Sunday schedule. There is much to take heart from, despite it unravelling a little in the end for Konta. It was a week of firsts in Rabat.

First time she had more than two matches back to back at a tour level, and a first tour level quarter-final, semi-final and final for the British No. 1 who despite winning titles at the ITF level on the dirt, she has never managed to translate that onto the main tour.

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In Konta’s favour, Alison Riske is returning to the court for the first time since Monterrey and after starting the year brightly reaching the Shenzhen final, she has struggled to make much of an impact on the tournaments that have followed.

While she is short almost a month of court time, Konta has had a lot of tennis in those legs, with five three setters in a row since the Fed Cup World Group II Play-off, and of course her final and a quick trip back to Europe.

However, with that must come a fair bit of confidence that she has at least gotten the hang of some of this clay court stuff, but with the balls whizzing about at altitude, this might not be as easy as it would seem.

Both benefit from an aggressive style of play, and Konta got her best results when she was taking the ball early, and stealing time away from her opponents. That being said, Riske also loves getting on the end of the ball quickly, and both are solid off the ground.

It is surprisingly a tight one to call, but for the sheer confidence of getting good clay-court play under her, and a deep run at a tournament, we would lean towards Konta, if she can recover well from the disappointment of missing out on a fourth career title.

Prediction: Konta in three sets.

Konta and Riske are scheduled on Court 4 not before 5pm (4pm BST).

 

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